City bigwigs in court for $35m fraud

Source: City bigwigs in court for $35m fraud | The Herald May 20, 2017

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter—
Former Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi, waste water manager Simon Muserere and water director Christopher Zvobgo yesterday appeared in court facing charges of fraud involving $35 million.Muserere (47), who appeared on three separate records, was granted $1 300 bail, while Zvobgo (64), who is appearing on two records, was granted $800 bail. Mahachi (63) was granted $300 bail.

They are facing charges of fraud, criminal abuse of office and corruptly concealing a personal interest in a transaction.

They appeared before Harare magistrate Ms Barbara Chimboza.

The prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa alleged that sometime in 2010, City of Harare started a programme to upgrade and rehabilitate sewer plants at Firle and Crowborough in Harare.

The programmes were spearheaded by Muserere and Zvobgo, who were responsible for waste water reticulation management.

Former city treasurer Micheck Mubvumbi, who is still at large, was to secure funds, while Mahachi was overally in charge of the programme.

Other city officials — Masiye Kapere, Wellington Janjazi, Paula Macharangwanda and Urayayi Mangwiro — who are also still at large, formed the procurement board.

During that time, City of Harare was governed by the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15, which set out tender procedures and the role of the procurement board.

In addition, City of Harare came up with a tender procedure award and administration of contracts and procurement of stores material manual.

The manual stated that procedures and regulations shall be used without exception in all departments for transparency.

It is alleged that Mahachi, Zvobgo and Muserere smuggled unregistered companies for the award of the contract for the Firle sewage works.

Muserere and Zvobgo hand picked Energy Resources Africa Consortium (ERAC) for a contract valued at $13 816 117, 10.

They manipulated the company name from Energy Resources Africa Consortium Trading to Portriver as a cover up.

On March 22, 2011 they corruptly awarded a tender to Sidal Engineering (Pvt) Ltd to the tune of $18 121 125, 10.

It is alleged that in early 2011, Muserere and Zvobgo prepared an unpriced bill of quantities for the work needed at Firle.

The contract was valued at $18 121 125, 16 and they also awarded a tender to ERAC to the tune of $13 816 117, 10.

On April 6, 2011, Sydney Hambara raised an invoice of $1 490 000 purporting that the work was complete when in actual fact nothing was done.

In February 2010, Muserere initiated that a new sewer line of 2,8 kilometres be constructed to upgrade Highlands sewer system.

He hand picked Showbyte Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, which was owned by his in-laws and gave it a tender worth $1 273 311, 28.

Directors of the company were sisters to Muserere’s wife and she would withdraw money deposited by City of Harare.

The company was awarded another tender worth $300 000.

City of Harare lost $35 000 619, 54.